5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
Your doctor is your partner in health. Choosing one is more important than selecting a hairstylist or banker. Your health matters more than your hairstyle, and even your money. If you’re not healthy, you can’t enjoy having a full bank account. This quote is spot-on:
“The first wealth is health”
~Ralph Waldo Emersen
So, how do you choose a doctor you can trust and who will help you maximize your health? First, make sure you’re choosing a physician that your health plan allows. Review your policy beforehand. Many also list approved physicians, giving you a good starting point. Make a list of approved physicians to consider.
Is the Doctor Board Certified?
Any doctor that you choose should be board certified in their specialty, that’s true whether you’re choosing a family practice physician, internal medicine doctor, or gynecologist. When a physician is board-certified, they’ve graduated from a residency program and passed board exams. Plus, if you’re board-certified, you’ll have to recertify at intervals and prove you have a certain knowledge level. This forces physicians to keep up and not get complacent. You don’t want a complacent doctor looking after your health.
Shruja Patel, M.D. is a board certified primary care physician who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a mechanical engineering degree. She then went on to earn her M.D. from the Medical University of Lublin before returning home to Texas to complete her residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Does the Physician Have Favorable Online Reviews?
Word of mouth is one way to find a good physician, but you can also check online reviews and get a better idea of whether a physician meets your needs. With online reviews, you’ll get a better idea of a particular physician’s strengths and weaknesses without having to rely on word-of-mouth. Patients rate doctors based on their experiences, and some include more in-depth reviews. There are a variety of doctor review sites, so read more than one.
Be cautious about taking all reviews at face value. For example, a person might call a doctor negligent, but do they have the medical knowledge to make that statement? But these sites are useful for better understanding a healthcare provider’s personality traits and style of practice. It can help you weed out physicians that you might clash with.
How Well Does the Doctor “Interview?”
Before choosing a doctor, make an appointment for an initial visit so you can better understand their style and personality. How can you do this? Make an appointment as a new patient for a routine physical, so you can talk to the physician and see if the two of you connect. The best physicians talk using plain language you can understand, and most importantly, they DO talk to you and don’t hesitate to answer your questions. If you have a serious health problem, you don’t want a doctor who brushes you off. Another consideration is whether a healthcare provider offers telemedicine consults. That comes in handy if you can’t get to the office for some reason.
Does the Doctor Focus on Prevention?
The best physicians won’t treat you like an illness; they’ll treat you as a whole person and help prevent future health problems too. You should be able to talk to your healthcare provider about everything from mental health issues to supplements. Make sure your chosen physician isn’t so indoctrinated by the pharmaceutical industry that they only know how to prescribe medications. They should know something about nutrition, or at least have a dietitian they work with and refer to. The best doctors are interested in prevention, but not all are trained in delivering it. A well-rounded practitioner should have at least two or three tools and philosophies for preventing illness, including diet, exercise, and stress reduction techniques. It’s also a smart idea to find a physician that “walks the walk.” They exercise and eat a healthy diet too.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a doctor is an important decision that can greatly impact your current and future health. The right doctor can make all the difference in your recovery from illness, injury, or surgery. The right one can also give you guidance on how to prevent health problems too. Choose wisely!
“How to Choose a Doctor You Can Talk To | National ….” 01 Feb. 2020, nia.nih.gov/health/how-choose-doctor-you-can-talk.
“Tips to Help You Choose a Doctor – WebMD.” webmd.com/health-insurance/how-to-choose-a-doctor.
“Verify Certification | American Board of Medical Specialties.” abms.org/verify-certification/.